Business

Supercar-maker McLaren in talks with investors about £250m fundraising

McLaren Group, the supercar manufacturer and Formula One team-owner, is in talks to raise hundreds of millions of pounds in new funding aimed at steering the British-based company into the electric vehicle era.

Sky News has learnt that McLaren has opened talks with existing shareholders including the sovereign wealth funds of Bahrain and Saudi Arabia about injecting at least £250m into the business in the coming months.

A final figure has yet to be determined, and one insider said that it was likely to be higher than £250m as the company seeks to fortify its balance sheet until the end of the decade.

News of the potential scale of the fundraising, on which investment bankers at Lazard have been drafted in to advise, comes after McLaren was hit by delivery delays on its new Artura hybrid supercar.

Although the new vehicle has received positive reviews, McLaren is having to implement what it described as “technical upgrades to ensure Artura customers enjoy optimum long-term performance”.

These upgrades have been affected by the supply chain delays hampering global automotive production, forcing the Woking-based company to slow production and customer deliveries of the Artura until the end of the month.

One source pointed out that regardless of the Artura issues, McLaren had always planned to engage with investors about implementing “the right capital structure to support our long-term growth strategy and business plan”.

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Both Mumtalakat Holding, a long-standing McLaren shareholder, and Saudi’s Public Investment Fund, are expected to commit to the new capital-raising.

Ares Management, another McLaren investor, is also likely to be involved.

It emerged this week that Mumtalakat had acquired part of McLaren’s valuable heritage car collection as part of a further £100m financial commitment to the business.

Insiders said the impending fundraising of at least £250m was in addition to that £100m.

On a third-quarter earnings call this week, McLaren said it was in “in active talks with all shareholders regarding a recapitalization of the group”, although it did not elaborate on the size or structure of a prospective deal.

It was unclear this weekend whether the new funds would be provided in equity, although financial restructuring experts are also said to be involved in the situation.

The funds would be entirely earmarked for McLaren Automotive, with its Racing subsidiary now a standalone entity within the group and not in need of additional financial support.

Earlier this year, McLaren named former Ferrari executive Michael Leiters as the boss of its road-car division.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the company was forced into a far-reaching restructuring that saw hundreds of jobs axed and substantial sums raised in equity and debt to repair its balance sheet.

In its racing division, which includes the Formula One cars driven this year by Lando Norris and Daniel Ricciardo, McLaren has also witnessed a turnaround under Zak Brown, who leads that arm of the company.

McLaren has also undertaken a series of corporate transactions since the start of the pandemic, when it sought a government loan – a request which was rebuffed by ministers.

Paul Walsh, the former Diageo chief who joined in 2020 as executive chairman, has overseen the sale of a stake in McLaren Racing to a separate group of investors, as well as a £170m sale-and-leaseback of its spectacular Surrey headquarters.

Last year, it also sold McLaren Applied Technologies, which generates revenue from sales to corporate customers.

Founded in 1963 by Bruce McLaren, the group possesses one of the most famous names in British motorsport.

During half a century of competing in F1, it has won the constructors’ championship eight times, while its drivers have included the likes of Mika Hakkinen, Lewis Hamilton, Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna.

In total, the team has won 180 Grands Prix, three Indianapolis 500s and the Le Mans 24 Hours on its debut.

McLaren’s on-track operations account for roughly 20% of the group’s annual revenues.

The company saw its separate divisions reunited following the departure in 2017 of Ron Dennis, the veteran McLaren boss who had steered its F1 team through the most successful period in its history.

Mr Dennis offloaded his stake in a £275m deal following a bitter dispute with fellow shareholders.

This weekend, McLaren declined to comment further on its fundraising talks.

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